Bloomberg: Revolving Door Keeps Spinning as Former U.S. Lawmakers Join Lobbying Firms

Written by admin on March 8th, 2011

Despite ‘cooling off periods’ designed to slow the revolving door, former lawmakers have found loopholes enabling them to go directly to work for lobbying firms by calling their work ‘consulting’.


Rules enacted in 2007 by a Democratic Congress haven’t slowed the revolving door linking Capitol Hill to nearby lobbying offices. Even as they must wait one to two years before attempting to directly influence former colleagues, ex-lawmakers can immediately plot strategy, offer advice and help their new clients navigate both Congress and federal agencies.

Bennett, 77, said his firm’s clients “will benefit from me being able to sit down with them and say, ‘Yes, you have a grief that’s legitimate,’ or ‘No, you don’t.’ They have many lobbyists who are able to take the outcome of that strategic advice and counseling up to the Hill.”

At least 17 ex-lawmakers who left office in January have joined law firms, trade associations or other lobbying enterprises, or set up their own consultancies, according to tracking by Bloomberg News and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

Movie Group

Former Senator Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, earlier this month was named chief executive officer of the Washington- based Motion Picture Association of America, the trade association for Hollywood studios. Two freshmen House members defeated last November for re-election, Democrat Walt Minnick of Idaho and Republican Charles Djou of Hawaii, formed their own firm.

“When racehorses retire, they go to stud; when members of Congress retire, they go to K Street,” said Rogan Kersh, an associate dean at New York University, referring to the location of many Washington lobbying firms.

The migration hasn’t slowed in the wake of Tea Party-fueled anger against Congress and the budget deficit. And the intensified push on Capitol Hill to cut federal spending could amplify the clout of ex-lawmakers as groups fight over slices of a diminishing budget pie, said Nels Olson, head of the Washington office of Korn/Ferry International, an executive recruitment firm based in Los Angeles.

“This is a time when you need to make sure your interests are represented,” Olson said. Former lawmakers have “relationships that can be advantageous.”


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